Review #459: Man on the Moon: The End of Day, Kid Cudi

Karla Clifton
3 min readNov 9, 2023


#459: Man on the Moon: The End of Day, Kid Cudi

Man, I really thought I escaped Kanye West reviews unscathed. My last Ye review (Yeezus) was in May 2022, but Kanye West’s ugly antisemitism train really got going in October 2022. Alas — Kid Cudi’s presence means that we need to talk about him again. (Ever heard of Kids See Ghosts?) Sorry, guys.

Kid Cudi first registered in our collective musical consciousness in 2007, when his self-released “Day ’N’ Nite (nightmare)” became popular. The beat is beautiful and soft, while his lyrics are mesmerizing and repetitive. Enter Kanye West, who took Cudi under his wing. The nascent rapper earned some heavy hitting cowriting credits: he co-wrote “Heartless” from West’s 808s and Heartbreak, and also several songs for Jay Z’s The Blueprint 3.

So West helped produce his full-length debut. He also co-wrote “Sky Might Fall,” and then featured on the fellatio anthem “Make Her Say,” a song built around an acoustic version of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” (Which, by the way, Gaga fully signed off on. Fun fact: She was even set to tour with West shortly after this, but it was canceled shortly after West accosted T. Swift onstage at the VMAs.)

Shockingly, Kanye West burned his bridge with Cudi, over his friendship with Pete Davidson of all things. West came for Cudi on social media and subsequently sic’d his fans on him. Cudi eventually spoke about the experience, expressing his disappointment that his former friend “used his power to f*** with me. … [He’s] f***ing with my mental health now, bro.”

Put like that, it seems extra terrible, since Cudi’s music is centered around his mental health struggles. Man on the Moon is in fact a concept album narrated by Common, where Cudi is centered as the lonely loner who struggles with his dreams as much as his nightmares. “Solo Dolo (Nightmare)” and “Alive (Nightmare)” are dark, but so is “In My Dreams (Cudder Anthem),” despite his assertion that Right here in my dreams/ Everything is a-okay/ I don’t worry bout anything. “Soundtrack 2 My Life” is just blatant suicidal ideation: A happy ending be slitting my throat. A far cry from the grandstanding attitude most rappers have.

Cudi immediately had a sound all his own. In some ways, I think that Cudi paved the way for alt/emo rap artists like Post Malone. There’s a dreamy, moonman quality to every song, even the ones that are speedier than the rest of them. “Simple As…” sounds like Pink Floyd remixed the Jackson 5, and “Enter Galactic (Love Connection Part 1)” overlays intimate whispers with peppy keyboards. But honestly, most every song sounds like “Hyyerr,” his hazy ode to weed.

Despite his general melancholy, not every song is about self-hatred and loneliness. There are some affirming ones, too! He talks himself up on “Heart Of A Lion (Kid Cudi Theme Music)” and cuts his haters down on “My World.” He talks about how good his music sounds in his own head on “Cudi Zone.” But the most surprising track to me was “Up Up & Away.” It’s a pop-rock anthem, with several driving guitar parts and his most dramatic chorus.

I think the ugliest thing Kanye did to Kid Cudi was take credit for his career. In that Esquire interview linked earlier, he points out that West was only one of his producers, and that he had a solid, celebrated team before Ye came along. He also points out the obvious: “Kanye West did not come and pluck me out of Applebee’s or the Bape store.” He was already headed for success — he merely took Kanye’s mentorship as the opportunity that it was. Maybe we didn’t need to talk about Ye at all.

Secret Standout: “Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare),” his MGMT collab. Fun Fact: My boyfriend hates every song on this album except for that one. Such is the power of MGMT, and why it’s bullshit that Oracular Spectacular isn’t on the list.

Also Worth Noting: I was really impressed by all three bonus tracks — “Man On The Moon,” “T.G.I.F.,” and “Is There Any Love,” along with its delicious Trevor Dandy sample.

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